I had a quick chance to take a look at the renderings and photographs of the new Washington ballpark over at JDLand. I'd seen some of these renderings before, but it's nice to get a little bit of context.
It's also very cool to see what it looks like when a ballpark starts to emerge from barren land (check out the construction photos). If they ever start building our park, you'll see that type of documentation here.
Site plan for the new Nationals ballpark, with the size of the Rapid Park site overlaid
But I have to agree to a certain extent with John's comment below about the looks of this ballpark. I wouldn't exactly call it "ugly", but it will probably never be taken for "soaring architecture" either. In fact, I'm struck by it's blandness and utter lack of personality. It's a good thing that they're planning to install cherry trees, because without them, this building could only inspire yawns.
It has a very massive feel, and part of that is because it's being built on a site over twice as large (20 1/5 acres) as the Rapid Park site the Twins hope to use (see image)! That means there's lots of room to stretch out and build gigantic staircases, observation towers (which will presumably offer observation of only the passing traffic outside the park), and even a full office complex. This is one very large site on which will be built one very large ballpark.
In terms of design, it appears to have almost no facade -- at least no unifying theme around the outside (or the inside for that matter). The elevation diagrams show a building which reveals its skeleton (not necessarily a bad thing), and doesn't really strive to look like anything.
I know that architectural significance was discussed and eventually required when the financing for the park was passed, but that appears to have slipped by the wayside. There is nothing significant here, and almost nothing one might call "architecture". It appears to be pure engineering.
Of course, in that respect it would follow on the history of ballparks in Washington. Griffith Stadium looked like it was put together from a box of spare ballpark parts. (We should also acknowledge that the facade our own beloved Metropolitan Stadium was essentially some sprinklings of colored brick barely concealing rusty iron). I did notice that there are two roof heights, something which may be a nod to old Griffith Stadium.
Part of my dislike is the low and very squat profile. There are no soaring light standards, and only muted vertical lines of any kind. Ballparks, seen from the side, are all essentially short and wide buildings, but adding vertical components (usually having to do with the circulation of people to the various levels) can really make a difference in the overall character of a stadium.
A memorable example of such a detail is the tower built into Wrigley Field in LA. That park also featured flags along to outside perimeter, something you may notice if you look closely at some of the Washington drawings. Unfortunately, those little flags get completely lost in the massive bulk of the Nationals new park, where they really added a touch of flair in California. I think the Washington park really cries out for some unique architectural element to make it distinctive.
So, while the park looks functional, and any new ballpark is an exciting place, there's nothing here which really makes me want to say, "Wow!"
"You talk about the magic, the aura, but what really makes a stadium is the fans. Concrete doesn't talk back to you. Chairs don't talk back to you. It's the people who are there, day in, day out, that makes the place magic."
– Bernie Williams
Explore the Site
Here are 50 images chosen randomly from the 3042 found on this site. Click the image to be taken to the original post. A new list is created every 10 minutes.
A little higher angle shows how the two stations are close to one another but distinctly separate. The oval, glass-enclosed area is the entrance from the Northstar platform below into the ballpark. The LRT platform is comparable to the other stations along that route.
Through the windows of the Metropolitan Club you can see one of the displays of Met Stadium memorabilia.
Lots of speakers, but in some places, no sound.
Shh. Don't tell those people working behind the ticket windows about these automated ticketing machines (underneath the plaza stairs)
Legend's Club, Section E (Click to enlarge greatly.)
Larry DiVito takes a last check of everything before the game starts
The Ballpark Wall! (really stunning)
This would be easy to miss, but I found it on a cart located directly behind the Batter's Eye seating on the upper concourse in center field.
I set up my late inning "office" at the drink rail behind section 206
Home Run Porch Terrace
This was billed as a diagram of a super-suite. I'm not quite sure just where this (or these) will be located.
Perhaps these very bold, Hitchcockian birds picking at left-over popcorn and peanuts were portents of what was to come.
Flowers. Real flowers.
Stairs down to the sidewalk from the skywalk over Seventh
This is the HERC Premonade with railroad tracks snaking beneath. (I think this should be named the Halsey Hall Premonade. Seriously.)
Such promise. (Click to enlarge.)
Skinny dugouts at TF
Can you name that field? (Braemer Park, Edina)
The view from section 210
Future home of the Met Stadium flag pole
Looking up toward Sixth Street.
This is where the main ticket office will be.
Footings for the Seventh Street walkway from the A ramp.
Knothole non-view #2
A familiar view through the top floor elevator lobby window in ramp B (HRP View and Terrace).